Universities across Africa should incorporate more information about the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) into their curricula, concluded representatives of National Authorities and educators during a meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, held from 13 to 15 June 2016.
Representatives of 34 African Member States of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) met with education professionals from across the continent, including representatives of universities and Ministries of Education. They discussed challenges and good practices in educating the general public and partner agencies about the CWC and the work of the OPCW.
“Effective implementation of the Convention depends on a concerted effort of various stakeholders”, said Kesrat Sukasam, Head of the OPCW Implementation Support Branch. “Key task of the National Authorities is to educate their partners about the peaceful uses of chemistry, as well as the norms and regulations established by the CWC.”
The meeting helped build stronger partnerships between National Authorities and educational institutions in Africa. The OPCW placed its educational tools at the disposal of all participants, including documentaries from the FIRES series. The films were well received by the attendees who found them useful in generating debate about the role of ethics in science.
Representatives of National Authorities present at the meeting identified the growing threat posed by non-state actors using chemical weapons as a major challenge facing the CWC implementation. Participants concluded that more robust cooperation between the OPCW, the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities would be critical in addressing this challenge.
”The risk of terrorists taking possession of controlled chemical agents brings a whole new dimension to the threat of chemical weapons’ proliferation,” said Peter Otim, African Union expert on common African defence and security. “African Union is committed to working with the OPCW on counter-terrorism issues.”
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